YLE T S E F I L G N I Z I M O T S U A DIECAST K
NIGHTSTALKER WRECKS HAVOC IN THE CUSTOMIZING WORLD
Interviews with Hall of Famer Bryan Pope Hall of Famer Jay Holt Virtual Customs Contest KustomKon Info And more! www.kustomzmag.com
R O T I D E E H T M O R F R E T T LE Welcome Customizers, We at DiecastSpace.com work hard to bring you the latest customizing trends and news through our website and the conventions held around the country. We work closely with the top customizers to get ideas, learn the newest trends and keep you informed of upcoming events. This magazine will consolidate the best of the customizing world! You can expect the same great tips, articles and showcases you find on Diecastspace.com, but with more details and extras. There will be information and opportunities exclusive to the magazine’s subscribers. We’ll even have some sneak peeks of the latest builds... months before their debut. As your Editor-in-Chief (and fellow customizer), I’ll do everything I possibly can to get more out of the stand-out customizers and attempt to answer all of the “How’d they do that” questions. In addition to the quarterly interviews, I will also be showcasing some of up and coming customizers. Our feature articles will include everything the custom diecast culture has to offer. From show and shine to on track performance, subscribers will get it all! So grab your subscription now and score yourself four issues of this great full-color magazine! As an added bonus, you will receive a Kustom 1 of 50 Dairy Delivery. Shipping is free and you will receive an issue once every 60 days. Jason Bennett Kustomz Magazine Editor
Virtual Customs Contest pg 1 - Vote for your favorite
Holt...Who Goes There? pg 11
Kustom Dreemz pg 3
- Interview with Designer and Customizer Jay Holt
Race Tech pg 14
- Custom Cars by Jeffery Roberts
- Tips and Tricks to help you with your next race.
Who is the Night Stalker? pg 5
Interview with the Pope pg 17
- A One on One with Customizer Chris Walker “Night Stalker”
How a Car Show Saved My Life pg 7
- How a car show helped Carson Lev get his life back.
- An indepth Interview with Designer Bryan Pope
Each issue we will select two pictures from our website and post them in the magazine. Take a look at the detail of the pictures and vote for who you think has the best kustom! Each winner will receive $25 case sent to them via Paypal! Once you make your selection, you will email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us either number 1 or number 2 for your selected vote. For future issues and submissions, visit the magazine website at http://www.kustomzmag.com and click on submit, and you can send in your custom contest entries from there! Take a look below, and make your decision!
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This is where 1/64 th scale collecting begins…
Your Informational Source in 1/64th… 2
Well, seems it now appears to be ello, my name is Jeffrey Roberts, my turn in this spotlight. And trust many of you may know my log-in me ... I feel very honored by this name on some of the diecast forums kind invitation. So what car(s) can I ... Dreem Dezignz. shine that light on just for sheer fun.
I’m mainly a customizer ... never Easy ... how ‘bout a car in my most was a true ‘purist’ collector ... for favorite early HOT WHEELS series, whom I embrace a very high respect. SPOILERS. The series had an illustrious (although a bit short) I only collected initially from 1968 production-run within 1970 and to 1971 ... most of my particular 1971. Eight of the 1968 ‘Customs’ favorite casting designs. My small street-cars were re-tooled using collection presently includes about modified designs penned by Mattel’s thirty cars. A few newer castings too early design-guru Ira Gilford. It was ... yet mainly early RedLine pieces. an amazing surprise-debut which occurred when, in ‘70, three of the 3
cars were first released as exclusive HOT WHEELS CLUB bonus-cars ... each fully dressed-out in cool chrome-plating. Over the two-year run, all eight cars were released in various colors of the dazzling SpectraFlame ‘rainbow’. Many quite rare variations appeared, those chrome versions remaining the most exclusive. Okay, so which of the eight was my ultimate favorite ?? Simple. SUGAR CADDY. But at times I find it sort of challenging to actually choose between it and TNT-BIRD.
Both castings were the only two in the series to actually be based on Detroit luxury coupes. While the TNT-BIRD, and six of the others, retained much of the intended design-theme of their original ‘Customs’ castings which gave them birth ... the ‘CADDY was the most radically re-designed.
Thus I decided to go all-out-fulltilt-boogie when I ventured into customizing my casting of it. The stage where I still seem to have the most challenge in completing a project is with the painting (um, sound familiar ??) All the final colors I use (or intend to use) are the transparent Kandy Kolors similar to Mattel’s original SpectraFlame. The ‘CADDY ‘beast’ had an Those of you who also use these exclusive velocity-stack engine paints know what I’m referring to, not repeated in the other seven as to how really finicky they can be cars. It featured a unique cleverly ... especially when applying the very sculptured full glass canopy (in final clear-coats. As such, I
lieu of, yet shaped like, its original roof). It singularly retained its front hood ... though to accommodate the larger engine, its center was cutout. It had the most pronounced, distinctive wheel-arch flairs. Its rear ‘spoiler’ was elegantly merged as an integral element of the body’s rear deck. The entire front face itself sort of acted as the front ‘spoiler’. It was designed and cast with what seem to be side ‘lakes-pipes’ placed in-between the wheel-wells. In my mind, these unique design cues, and its overall concept-vision, elevated it above the others.
SUGAR CADDY … still in progress) (( mirror-polished ... awaiting its Kandy Aqua top-to-bottom-fade )) custom-built details ...... new rims and tires ... new aluminum-tube side exhaust ‘shrouds’ in drilled-out holes... new rear corner-locator / antenna rods in drilled-out holes ... new front-fascia accent-bars with stainless-steel micro-mesh center-peak grill panels behind those 4 bars ... re-shaped engine details ... will feature all-new custombuilt interior employing numerous custom scratch-built parts I will be
have yet to successfully paint mine without a mishap. Honest ... I’ve made twelve attempts on it.
painting it (yet again) soon, once I feel I’m at long-last able to aheive it successfully. Like many customizers, I’ve also discovered the great tires In the images below, the new and rims produced by other makers. scratch-built interior had not yet The set on this project are such an been completed, though the new example ... and (trusting my good custom-made steering-pod is luck), I allowed it to roll. visible. All the components are seen temporarily test-fit-installed. One of Thank you for reading this article my ‘signatures’ employed on each of and thanks also to the editors for my particular cars is a new ‘nick- inviting me to submit it. I hope all name’ for the piece. of you keep enjoying this fabulous hobby we share. Good times ahead This one I call CAD’APULT for us. (my version of the ‘71 Hot Wheels 4
f you have been in the die-cast world for any length of time, you have obviously heard of the name Night Stalker in one form or another. Love him or hate him, it cannot be denied he has been credited with many accomplishments and made a serious impact in the die-cast community. These days he wears many hats; toy company owner, designer, artist, and customizer. And let’s not forget collector of almost anything cool that grabs him. Who is Chris Walker, and the man behind the name, Night Stalker? He was virtually an unknown in the diecast world until 2002 when he started making his creations known on the internet die-cast forums. After attending the 2003 Nationals in Cincinnati, a lot of things started to change. Chris was born in Palm Springs CA. With Southern California being the center for all things custom, racing, and pure hotrod culture, it was bound to happen. “When I was young my mom had an Impala with glass packs on it. So it was pretty much in my blood.” He had older brothers with Hot Wheels cars and tracks that he played with, and to this day his older brother still mentions how Chris bit the wheels off all the cars. It was a great time to grow up and he made the best of it. His father was in the Air Force, and it wasn’t long before the family was moved from state to state, then Italy and Germany. So he got a taste of all cultures around the world. “I wasn’t really into anything 5
custom too much at that point. My biggest thing was BMXing.” Like any youngster, it WAS his hot rod. Flashy paint or chrome, Skyway or Mongoose Moto-Mag wheels, those were truly the good old days. He still builds and collects them to this day with his two sons. It wasn’t until moving back to Florida in the early 80’s that Chris really started to
just wasn’t working out in his favor, he eventually moved onto to other things in life. “It was around that time I got my first vehicle, a 1985 Mazda minitruck. I painted it pink and blue with a convertible top kit on it, and lowered it. I got bit by the mini-truckin’ bug really bad.” One day a fellow minitrucker friend handed him the then brand new in 1989 Hot Wheels Minitruck and the Purple Passion. “Those were the two cars that got me hooked and started my die-cast collection. I grabbed them up, and in my spare time I dabbled in customs a little. I was also in the Military and then worked Law Enforcement - SWAT. So the custom stuff was a nice way to wind down after a long day. This is also were I picked up the nickname Night Stalker.” “After getting the internet, I saw there were a lot of other people customizing die-cast cars too. So to me, it became more acceptable instead of something I did out of boredom.” During this time, Chris built model cars as well. It was around 2002 that he bought a kit of a 1967 Camaro. “I thought it would be cool if I built a large scale replica Hot Wheels Heavy Chevy. Complete with the redline wheel and engine that was identical to the 64th scale counterpart. It was such a success that other replica models soon followed; Sky Show Deora, Silhouette, Beach Bomb, Boss Hoss, etc. This is where it all began. “I entered a large scale Light My Firebird in the Custom Contest at the 2003 Nationals in Cincinnati and placed 2nd place. It got a lot of attention and I haven’t stopped since then.”
get the creative eye and started discovering who he was. He discovered girls, surfing, skateboards, hotrods, and model cars. “I got hold of my first skateboard and life wasn’t the same since. I ended up getting a sponsorship by Vision Skateboards as an amateur street skater. I thought I was going to ride that skateboard for the rest of my life. In my free time I liked to draw and paint, and I eventually started custom painting my Chris went to many of the large skateboards.” After the skating thing die-cast conventions, and to date has
received 30 awards in the various customs contests. He has hosted the popular Custom Bash parties to promote his brand Night Stalker Customs, and over the years has released several popular limited edition signature customs sold on his website. After a short freelance gig with Johnny Lightning Chris really got to see how the business worked and behind the scenes and wanted to get more involved. One day he got a call and sat down with then President of Shelby Automobiles, to discuss starting a die-cast line for Shelby called Shelby Collectibles.
a rock star, and to be honest I didn’t mind one bit. Signing autographs was a shock to me at first. I was also a designer at that point and worked for a company as well. People liked that I had a small hand in designing something they liked. I wasn’t going to complain.” Chris knew what he wanted to do at this point. So in 2009, Alien Projects was officially born. “I set out to design something a little different, but something that I knew I would like. I settled on a retro styled COE hauler called the Dreamliner. I was heavily influenced by the GM Futureliner and really loved that
These days most of my influences are anything 40’s and 50’s retro, hot rod, rat-rod styles, and flashy paint. I dig anything by Roth, Starbird, or Barris. I just love the show-rod style customs.” Chris has also been a big part of helping out CJ’s Die-cast Space events since 2009 and really enjoys doing that. “I meet a lot of great people and it’s a good time working with CJ and his guys. you would be hard pressed to find a better bunch.” These days Chris is travelling around the world still doing work for the various International and US events, staying pretty busy. He is on a plane going somewhere almost every 30 days. So what’s the next chapter for Night Stalker? “I am not sure, the future hasn’t been written yet. I get to do customs, event cars, prototyping, design work, packaging, and every-
“It was a great feeling to walk into the store and see something you worked on for sale. It is hard to describe. But I wanted more.” “I was in heaven since this was exactly what I wanted. I went right home and made up a number of paint samples in metal-flakes, candies, enamels, etc. Then we started with the packaging samples.” The journey began. “It was a great feeling to walk into the store and see something you worked on for sale. It is hard to describe. But I wanted more.” Although working in the diecast market, Chris still worked on his own custom cars. His popularity got him noticed by other companies, promoters, and die-cast clubs, all wanting his help to get their own custom and show cars made, that he was all too happy to oblige. “I started making many of the custom code-3 cars that were for the Hot Wheels International shows in Mexico and Japan. I set out at that point in 2009 to do a Night Stalker World Tour and go to every show around the world for 1 full year promoting my name and the various die-cast shows. What I didn’t realize was that I had fans around the world. Mexico was crazy. It was like I was
design style, so I played on that.” The Dreamliner debuted in Feb 2010 at the Die-cast Space Las Vegas SuperConvention, with various versions being offered since then through-out the year on the Alien Projects website. “Even though I own my own die-cast company, I am still involved with Shelby Collectibles and doing custom cars. I really enjoy working with Robert from Shelby. He was a big part of helping me out and I enjoy doing whatever I can with him. As far as custom cars, I haven’t slowed down on those either. I still enjoying building something whenever time allows or something grabs me.
thing I always wanted to do in this business. I finally have my dream job. I even got to work with one of my custom influences, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s son, Dennis Roth. So life is pretty good at the moment. I guess I will take it one day at a time and see what happens next. Until then, I guess you can see me in the customs room, or wandering the halls. If I don’t say much, don’t worry, I am probably just tired. lol” www.alienprojects.com www.nightstalkercustoms.com 6
by Carson Lev
I am a lucky guy. Luckier than I should be. But it really isn’t luck -- it’s being blessed. It’s just easier for people to think of it as luck, removing all the religion stuff. If you’re lucky, you don’t have to pay anybody back. There’s no one to say thanks to when you drop your noggin on the pillow, no one to acknowledge and no one to owe your life to. However it is very obvious to me, and hopefully to you after reading this, that it truly is blessings, and there is only one person to thank. We’ll call it what it is and move on. Through my job at Mattel Hot Wheels I am fortunate enough to go to lots of cars shows: from the big ones like SEMA and Detroit Autorama, all the way down to the little local Saturday morning “donut derelicts.” I never really know if I am going for work or fun, as the two have been fused into a passion without a clear 7
line between them. I’ll go to see some buddies and check out their cars and then I end up shaking hands on a licensing agreement. Or I go to one of the traditional business shows like SEMA, and it’s a reunion of all my old car pals. I was lucky enough to grow up in the ’50s during the heydays of hot rods and racing (you can tell I grew up in the ’50s -- no one today says “heyday”). I was
like every guy that ever drove a car, painted, wrenched, cut, welded and massaged metal. So on the weekends, chances are I was at the drags (we had eleven drag strips in So Cal at that time -- can you name them all?), motorcycle races, boat races at Long Beach Marine Stadium, midgets and sprint cars at Ascot or road races at Riverside. If I wasn’t at races, I was at car shows. I’d carry around a notebook full of drawings and
“I was lucky enough to grow up in the ’50s during the heydays of hot rods and racing...” plopped down in an area of So Cal that was the “driver-weldercustomizer-painter-pinstriperfabricator” epicenter of the hot rod universe -- specifically, Lakewood, CA… known as So Cal or “La-La Land” to everyone east of Barstow! Because of this proximity, I grew up with the kids of what seemed
dedicate the cars that I had seen to graphite and paper. You would think with all these car shows and races through all the years that I’d be burned out. Never happened. I can’t get enough -- the wife and kids will attest to that. It’s not gas in my blood; it’s a chemical cocktail of
nitro, fiberglass, lacquer and onearrive at the diagnostic trailer. She shot lettering enamels. So enough So for the first three years waits as I get my blood test, and I background. Trust me -- I am the of the Cruisin’ For A Cure show, exit the trailer with her telling me prototypical guy car. every time I see Debbie the first now we will both feel better. I am words out her mouth are “Did you still thinking what a waste of time. One of the newer car get your PSA blood test?” I blow I am quickly deposited back to my shows I really enjoy is the Cruisin’ her off every year with a “Leave me car and she is off like a bat outta For A Cure show. Cool show, great alone -- I‘m young and healthy,” the bad place to grab some other organization, lots unsuspecting postof cars -- over 2,000 40 male. -- and all done and over in one day. What drives Recently it has this lady to organize been held at the Orange County and “I want to go check out that this event, using hundreds of Fairgrounds, which provides chopped Merc!” After three years hours of her personal time to pull plenty of room for display and of avoiding the test, she tracks this thing together? It’s personal cruising. It is one of the few shows me down like a guy looking for for her -- very. Her husband Jim is that encourage hot rodders to a number-matching manifold on a prostate cancer survivor. He is a drive their cars -- through the a 409. It’s year four, the show is great guy and doing well, but went show! The fact that the event bigger than ever, and this time through the hell getting answers supports a great cause was cool, Debbie is not taking any brush-off and treatment. The answer is that but didn’t concern me -- at first. crap answer from me. She comes PC is very treatable in early stages, up, grabs me by the arm and but if you wait or ignore it, you’ll You see, the cure they are commands “Come with me. We be in trouble bigtime. She is a Lady cruisin’ for is a cure for prostate On A Mission and it’s cancer. It is the #2 killer of men clear to me, and anybody behind heart disease, and last year else that comes in contact The goals of the Cruisin’ For A alone they raised $207,500.00 for with her, that if it were up Cure show are simple: the cause. to her, there wouldn’t be another death -- ever -1. Raise funds for prostate cancer research. ALL the money raised goes to UCLA Cancer Besides all the cool cars, due to PC. Center. food and entertainment, Debbie has arranged for physicians and 2. Educate men and their families about the phlebotomists (technicians that So I enjoy the rest of my danger of prostate cancer. draw blood) from UCLA to be day checking out the cars, 3. Provide FREE PSA screening tests for on-site along with the Drive racing kids on the Hot men over 45 years of age. Against Prostate Cancer van from Wheels track and settle Washington, D.C. The doctors back into my normal little donate their time and the van is life. Until… funded by the Prostate Cancer Coalition. You can choose the are getting your blood test NOW!” Two weeks later, I get this level of test you are comfortable She pushes me into her golf cart strange envelope in the mail from with -- a blood screening with or and covers the fairgrounds in less some medical testing company. without a physical exam. The PSA time than it would take John Force. Oh yeah, no biggie -- it’s just the blood test is simple, as they draw a The whole time I am popping off results from my blood test at the small amount of blood and check sarcastic remarks like “I hope this Cruisin’ For A Cure show. I tear for prostate-specific antigens, an makes you feel better ‘cause there through and then my eyes stop on early indicator of prostate cancer. isn’t anything wrong with me.” We the large printed numbers: 5.6%
“Leave me alone -- I‘m young and healthy,”
PSA. I read on to discover that anything over 4.0% PSA means you could be at risk. Right below are the bold typed instructions “SEE YOUR DOCTOR.” Okay, so it’s reality time. The message…I might have Cancer. The Big “C.” Cancer doesn’t care how much I tried to blow off Debbie Baker, doesn’t care about me, my family or the person I am,
STILL ARE GOING TO HAVE until my surgery date. D-Day A BABY, AND I STILL HAVE is August 18th 2003. Surgery CANCER! goes well and, after the normal two days in the hospital, I am at Through Debbie Baker, home recovering. While at home my personal physician Dr. Scott I receive the call that will change Shiffman, and the UCLA Medical the rest of my life: the results of Center, I get a reference to Dr. De the after-surgery biopsy of the Kernion -- who just happens to be complete prostate gland. This will the top dog at the Prostate Cancer tell me if the cancer was contained Center at UCLA. We discuss the in the gland or if it had migrated
“Well, it’s kind of like being 20% pregnant..... YOU STILL ARE GOING TO HAVE A BABY, AND I STILL HAVE CANCER!” good or bad. It certainly doesn’t care about the next project I want to complete on my ride. It wants to consume my body and waste it away. It really doesn’t care about anything else. Eventually I get scheduled for a biopsy, where they will use a needle to remove small pieces of tissue from the prostate gland and check for cancer. Just the thought of somebody taking little sample chunks of my internals gets me a little more than concerned. But it is the one near-absolute way to find out what the heck is going on in there. So they take five samples and I wait 10 painfully long days to get my results. One of the things I have learned is when the nurse calls you, it’s probably good news. When the doctor himself calls you, it isn’t going to be good. “Hello, Doctor…” My news is not good. Of the five samples taken during my biopsy, ONE -- just ONE -- comes back positive. That’s just 20% -- hey, not bad, right? It’s only ONE little sample right?? Well, it’s kind of like being 20% pregnant. YOU 9
many options and decide that surgery to remove the cancerous prostate gland is the best answer for me. There are many options available from radiation therapy, radioactive seed implants, hormone therapy, freezing to surgery. I won’t discuss all the options as each have their plusses and minuses. For me personally I want to live a long time without ever worrying about this again. Get this damn thing outta me! Because I am young, healthy and the cancer is in very early stages, I am fortunate enough to be a candidate for what’s called “Nerve-Sparring Surgery.” Basically, this surgical technique removes the cancerous gland and leaves the surrounding nerves intact. This thin layer of nerves surrounding the prostate gland controls a couple of important functions for us men -- sexual function and urinary control. But I can’t think of any two more important things right now. It only takes two weeks from when I learn I have cancer
to other areas. Come to find out that little small sample -- the 20% sample, the only one out of five samples that came back positive -- it’s the only cancer cells in the whole gland. BINGO! You, Carson Lev, have just won the cancer lottery! What it means is no radiation treatment, no chemotherapy, no puking, nausea, hair loss, neardeath poisoning… just go live the rest of my life. I AM CURED! I will just need to get regular PSA checks, just in case one tiny little microscopic s.o.b. cancer cell got through. The chances are highly unlikely as the cancer was only in one small location. During my follow up visit, Dr. De Kernion asks what it was that lead me to have my blood test. After all, I was young, healthy and had no symptoms. I tell him the story of Debbie, Cruisin’ For A Cure and her persistence. Dr. De Kernion then tells me if I had waited for a symptom, it would have been about 10 years until a symptom appeared, and at that
point I would have been fighting for my life. I take five weeks off and then get back to work. Almost like it didn’t happen. Heck, I hardly had time to even feel sorry for myself. So if I hadn’t gone to the Cruisin’ For A Cure car show, Debbie Baker would not have pushed me to get the PSA Test. Most men avoid that test…that’s why we die. It’s really pretty stupid. You see, fear is a big reason guys do nothing… and that is what kills them. Fear lets cancer take over. Fear and stupid pride. With early detection most men will return to a full normal life within a matter of months. Normal as in your wife will still smile when you pass her in the hallway, and when it’s time to go to the bathroom you aren’t emptying a bag for the rest of your life. Don’t get me wrong -if that’s what I had to go through to stay alive, I’d do it gladly. But if I get a choice, I want to go back to as near normal as I can. The advances being made in prostate cancer research are unbelievable. But if you don’t get tested and stay stupid, you’ll die. In the case of prostate cancer, fear and stupidity equal death. So here’s the question I have: “Why do us men take such great care of our hot rods, and not our bodies???” Hell, if this were that hot rod car of yours acting up, you’d have it torn down and rebuilt in a day. You’d be all over it like lacquer on a lowrider. Would you wait for the piston to punch through the block before investigating that little tap-tap-tap sound? If you’re smart, you’ll treat
your body like your car and take car of it. This means listening to the little signs. The key to getting the most out of your ride is early detection of any possible problems. Same thing for your body.
But look on the bright side -- if you take care of it now, you are going to feel better, be healthier and live longer. Which means more car shows, more time with your hot rod and more time with your family. Remember your family - The facts and figures are the ones that love you and would staggering: 220,000 men will be like to have you around? This is diagnosed with prostate cancer the one car show you and all of this year. And 28,000 of those your family should go to together. men will DIE -- 28,000 husbands, If you need an excuse to go the fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, Cruisin’ For A Cure this year, just friends and neighbors. For such a tell your wife “Honey, if you really deadly killer, it isn’t talked about a love me, you’ll want me to go. This lot around men. Maybe the subject car show could save my life!” is just a little too delicate. Maybe it just scares us men too much. Maybe we can change that just a little. Every man that lives long Carson Lev is the former Director enough WILL get prostate cancer. of Design for Hot Wheels and is If you are a guy in your 40s to 50s, currently the Director of Licensing it might be in your body as you for Hot Wheels. He is a regular read this, like a little cancer timefixture at car shows and races release bomb waiting to pop off. throughout the west coast. Carson Heart disease and other aliments was diagnosed with prostate tend to get much more publicity, cancer in June 2003 and has been but prostate cancer is still the #2 clear of cancer since August 2003. killer of men. So here is the challenge, men. Take care of your body the way you would your best hot rod or custom. When we drive our cars, we are completely in tune to every motor noise, every turn of the cam, every valve opening and closing, every turn of the crank and movement of the pistons. We know the date of the last oil change better than the last physical we had. If you expect to be “driving” that hot rod body of yours for years to come, it’s time for some preventative maintenance. Or you could just drive it into the ground. It’s your choice.
September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. More information about the Cruisin’ For A Cure shows can be found at www. cruisinforacure.com.
Interview with Jay Holt of Execution Kustoms
We know you have been on the diecast custom scene for about five years. How long have you been customizing? What was your first award?
Who goes there? who go the route of designing a car for production is another thing in its self. When they create the designs for cars like the Sledster or Dreamliner it is done in Photoshop or Illustrator, so the designer must be savy in different areas than a customizer is. Customizers need to know how to fabricate and paint among many other things, and designers create using the computer. I feel that the gap between fabrication and design will always leave room for both to shine.
I have been customizing for 26 yrs. I started when I was 8 and by the time I was 13 I was entering contest for awards. My 1st awards were ribbons for 2nd and 3rd place. I was just excited to be reconized but the love for building and winning Q Since some of the top customizers awards became a marrige for me have started to produce their own and I’m still doing it 26 yrs later. castings, have you felt the need to create your own design? Q We are all very aware that the competition in the Pro division is A You know, something like that insane. Do you think the amateur is more about the strength of your classes have gotten tougher since following, in my opinion if you you started customizing? have a big enough fan base and can come up with a bad ass design for then by all means go for A Yes, the amateur classes have production it. For now, I will continue to build become more challenging. I have my brand and maybe one day down noticed that the bar has been raised, the line that oppurtunity will show especially with new customizers its face and I will jump on it. jumping in everyday. A lot of those guys have some pretty sweet ideas. Q Didn’t you have Beest cast some Q Do you feel that the roll of the of your modified buses a while ago? customizer has changed since the EVO, Sledster and Dreamliners A Yes I have had Brian cast a few of have come on the scene? my designs like the Drag Liner and a Drag Bus design I did. He does work and will continue to A The role of the customizer, in my awesome go to him anytime I create a design opinion, is still the same - build top that I want casted. notch pieces, win awards and learn all you can while you do it. The guys 11
Q There seems to have been a lot of collaboration between customizers lately. Have you worked with anyone to produce a run of customs?
Yes, I have worked with Lou Tanahara of the Custom Crew and Jimmy Chavez aka The Box Man. Whenever we come together the product is always awesome.
Before my class win at the ‘10 Super Convention, I was convinced that a custom needed to have rubber tires to do well. ( I was obviously wrong in this case) What are your thoughts on the rubber vs. plastic wheel debate?
A You know, it’s funny, I don’t really
consider rubber or plastic wheels when I build. I just go with what looks best for the piece, but more times then less I go with rubber. It just has a more realistic look and feel to it.
Q After seeing the Forumla 51 and
the Dragliners, it’s very easy to get the impression that you have spent some time at the drag strip. Are you a fan of drag racing?
I am a fan of drag racing but from the couch. I have never been to a drag race. I catch it on TV from time to time and it always draws my attention. So I figure, why not build one? Hell, you can’t go wrong when you add power and speed!
Q Speaking of the two cars in the A I would have to say each piece is A
Yes, until I rebuild my website, last question, what do you think of unique. The flow of the body is what Facebook is the place to find my latest Mattel producing cars like the Mid determines how low or high the car work. My facebook ID is Execution Mill? Does that make the extreme will sit in relation to the chassis. For me, Kustoms - look me up and add me as styling a little too mainstream? I’ll go as low to the ground as possible a friend. I’m always available to check while still keeping that realistic feel. out some cool customs or just to chat.
A I think when it comes to diecast,
there will always be a group of people that like the extreme/out of the box designs. We already know how the car looks when it is factory made, now lets see what some creativity can do. I’m sure mainstream will love it, that’s why we are seeing so many new shows on TV with these extreme builds.
Q It seems that a lot of your work Q I think we are all well aware of has a military theme to it. Did your the So Cal car culture. Do you think uncle’s military service have any this helps the diecast car community influence on these themes? or are most people too busy playing with the real thing?
A Yes, part of it is due to my Uncle
who has now retired from the NAVY,
A I think the people with the real
How long have you been building custom chassis? Any tips or advice?
thing still play with or collect diecast. I mean, it’s what got us into the real thing right? When I hit the So Cal shows I always see vendors selling diecast cars. Every show I go to it is like that, so I think they go hand in hand.
I started building different pieces - like rear ends, disc brakes, pullys, drive shafts, etc...for model cars about 8 yrs ago. I drove to San Diego, went to the Sherline Store and picked myself up a lathe and started off with no knowledge. Before I knew it, I had it down well enough to make little parts for my model kits. With my move into diecast I brought those tricks with me. I will make the skeleton of the chassis from brass then add little goodies like NOS bottles, fuel cells, rear ends and other things I have machined on my lathe. It’s a lot harder than 24th scale because of the size but it’s still fun to do.
Is the stance of your chassis unique to each custom or is there a common jig that all of the pieces are based off?
but a lot is also due to what’s going on or has been going on in the Middle East. During the time I was building a lot of military pieces, the TV was flooded with shows about what was going on in the Middle East, so I couldn’t help but take it all in. What caught my attention the most were the vechicles and machines used in the war. The Military Channel was my reference when I would build a piece - I’d see something I liked and build it but with a twist of some sort. I’d kind of put my own stamp on it.
As an attendee of a few DiecastSpace conventions, how would you rate them? And be honest.
Honestly, DiecastSpace has awesome conventions and I haven’t missed a Super Convention yet. The thing I like most is that the car/custom you build for their contest does not have to be a Hot Wheel casting. It can be any diecast casting which opens the door up for more creativity. Plus the Super Convention is in Vegas!
Q I was looking at some pics of the “Evil Chevy” on your Facebook page (that thing is sick!). Is Facebook where we can find the updates on your latest creations?
drawing a blank on your next promotional item?...
Choosing a fast car can be a difficult task. Some castings can be very quick on one track and a middle-of-the-pack car on another. Other cars are just flat out fast wherever they are. We’ll take a look at the different elements over the next couple of issues. This month we’ll concentrate on car condition.
Anything that creates friction will slow the car. The biggest problem area is in the hubs, the inside surface of the wheel. The axle is stationary on most cars and the wheel spins around it. The wheel has a very small contact patch with the axle at the bottom of the hub. This contact patch will increase if the axle is bent and will create more friction. The friction will be greater the more the axle is bent. A bent axle will also cause the car to pull and produce more friction as the car rides the side of the track. The wheels can also drag and contact the body if the axles are bent severely. Dry graphite lubricant is fine enough to be worked into the hub and can really help cut the friction. Check your club’s race rules before using the graphite, not all clubs allow the use of it. Roll your car across a large flat area and if it veers right or left, it needs work. Take a very close look at the wheels and see which ones are out of alignment. You can straighten the axles with a small pair of needle-nose pliers. Don’t try to straighten the axle by pushing the wheel, you can damage the inner surface of the hub. Damaging the hub will ruin the car’s performance. Watch the cars that run on your local track. Chances are you’ll see a few cars that will be great performers. Do a little searching either at the club or on ebay and find the castings that work best for you. Use the tweaks listed above with the right cars and you’ll have a good chance at winning some stock races. All cars perform differently on differently tracks. Once you find a car that is fast on a certain track, keep it on that track. You’ll have to start from scratch on each track unles you are very lucky and using one of the rare car’s that perform well on every track.
Keep on racing.
We are just two short months away from splashing down in Dallas Texas. This convention is not just for the customizers, but for everyone with a love of cool toy cars. Many of the great ideas and cars you see today come from those who dive into the world of customizing and bring to us some of the most astounding pieces of fine art around. Dallas will play host to the first ever KustomKon and will feature some of the most well known customizers around the world giving specialized seminars and what’s a better way to get better then to learn from the pros! Scheduled to appear will be:
• • • • • • •
Sheri Abbey from Sheri’s Wheels KB from KbKustomz and Flamemasks.com Luis Tanahara from Tanahara Designs and Custom Crew Chris Nightstalker Walker Jimmy “The Boxman” Chavez Paul Wooten from WRF Customs Jay Holt from Execution Kustomz
And many more TBA! Tickets are just $65 which covers all 3 days and gets you access to everything. There is a special dinner on Saturday Night celebrating one of the ultimate customizers in the world, John D’Agostino. John will be on hand for a special Q/A and autograph signing so don’t miss out on this! The North Texas Diecast Association will be hosting the Hospitality Suite and special thanks to them for putting that together! Liberty Promotions will be on hand with some cool cars and prizes as well as an array of awesome convention cars and of course the special Dairy Delivery that you will receive at registration! Plan your trip today to make it out Dallas and support this awesome convention. You will see just how special these little cars are when they are customized to the tilt and just how much time and talent goes into them. Too book your hotel room and for In Room Trading setup, Call (972) 929 4500 and tell them you are with the DiecastSpace.Com Kustomizer Konference. The group rate is $99 a night. For more information, visit www.toycarconventions.com or call 1-877-832-2779
Kustoms Mag: So you wanted to be a farmer? Are you glad your father pushed you in other directions?
Designs makes it so worthwhile that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the challenges of coming up with new themes and designs that excite people and get them talking.
Pope: Art has become such an integral part of my life I can’t imagine myself without a career in Kustoms Mag: Who were your early the art world. I am very happy my influences? Did you have a mentor? father had the foresight to let me go into a field where I could grow and Pope: Probably my biggest early influence was Troy Lee. I love his flourish as I have. custom designs and have actively Kustoms Mag: We know you sought them out. Other people started Pope Designs in ‘06. How who have influenced me are Dave long were you customizing before Chang and Mattel’s own Miq Wilmot. Dave Chang has brought the creation of the company? and continues to bring Pope: Actually not long. My first custom for sale pieces were from 2004 and then only on a very limited trial basis at the old Wicked Weekend of Hot Wheels convention. They were very well received and it convinced me to dip my foot deeper into the water and try some custom contests. Things just grew from there. Kustoms Mag: Did you ever imagine that Pope Designs would have grown in popularity as fast as it has?
excitement and innovation to both the diecast and custom Pope: It really still amazes me today how far it’s come since December worlds with his EVO line. Miq 2006. It’s actually a bit overwhelming Wilmot’s designs were very edgy at times but the continual support of and visually stunning to me and I my family, friends, and fans of Pope have tried to harness that influence 17
in my own designs, especially the Hallow Wheels Bash customs! Plus, I can’t forget to mention Chris “Nightstalker” Walker! He has given and continues to give me so much advice, inspiration and insight into the custom world that has really helped me flourish. Kustoms Mag: A lot of people say there is a difference between a customizer and a graphic designer. Do you feel there is a difference and what would you classify yourself as? Pope: I think both come together so well that I really can’t classify myself as one or the other. I am a graphic designer by trade but part of what I do is create new and different packaging for my company’s products. So in essence I customize the packaging to make it unique and different. With Pope Designs I use my talents as a graphic designer and the vision and creativity as a customizer to aid in creating unique and different designs for diecast that people want to buy. Kustoms Mag: Was the popularity of the Drag Bus casting the reason you chose to use it as your main piece even though you don’t collect buses?
would never get through it Pope: Yes and no. The casting because of my tendency to be a has been a fan favorite since 1996 perfectionist and get every single and I was very interested to see one as near perfect as I could. I what I could do with the casting thought it would break me but to raise it to the next level in terms the response was so positive I of creativity. There have been definitely wanted to do more. It many great designs from both definitely made me strong and Mattel and outside artists that my perfectionism has paid off in have accomplished that and the popularity from my loyal fans. popularity of the casting still “What doesn’t kill us makes us remains very high. Plus, a great Kustoms Mag: The Pope Diamonds stronger” never rang so true. number of my convention pieces seem to be a very successful addition are the VW Drag Bus since the to the line-up, Will the real rider/ Kustoms Mag: You stated in an convention sponsors want to utilize chrome base combination be earlier interview that you had stopped a popular casting. I definitely will exclusive to the Diamonds? doing box sets due to the packaging continue to showcase the casting being damaged during shipment. as long as I feel I can come up with Pope: I am very proud of the Pope Would you consider doing a box set unique designs for it, but I also like Diamond series, and the immediate as a convention only piece? branching out with other casting to shake things up. As far as not colleting the casting, “I don’t think anyone will truly have them all since the ones with the I really don’t hold on to any of my pieces, or many largest collection of my pieces have told me that they would rather diecast, other than Vipers cut off their right arm then sell their Pope customs.” for that matter. I do love to hang on to the ROAKS that people are generous enough to give to me no response it received from custom Pope: Actually it was box covers matter what the casting. buyers was very encouraging. Initially that I stopped because of the I thought it would be something I shipping damage. I would definitely Kustoms Mag: How many buses would add every once in a while but consider box sets or 2 car sets for a have you done? Is there any one they have turned into a very high convention piece and probably as a person who has them all? demand item. The real rider tire and Pope Designs piece in the future as chrome base combination will still well. You have to offer designs that Pope: My goodness; since 2004 play significant roles in Diamond stimulate the buyers imagination and it has to be over 40 different buses design, but I am always trying to find get them excited about your product. including all pre-Pope Designs new and different ways of showcasing The multi car set question has been models, Pope Designs production what I think a Pope Diamond should brought up from time to time and I versions, Diamonds, color variations, be. So don’t be surprised if a Diamond have been apprehensive about it, but custom contest entries, and other 1 of in the near future is something you you really never can say never. 1s. I don’t think there is any one person never expected. who has them all but there are several Kustoms Mag: We have been seeing people who have a large percentage. Kustoms Mag: Your first custom a lot more kids customizing lately. Do I don’t think anyone will truly have was a Dairy Delivery that was a run of you have any advice for the young them all since the ones with the largest 100 for the second Wicked Weekend. customizers like Wyatt, Elijah and collection of my pieces have told me How tough was that to pull off? Chase from the Orlando convention? that they would rather cut off their right arm then sell their Pope customs. Pope: At the time I thought that it was an impossible task and I 18
Pope: I think it’s great that new people are jumping into the customizing fray; it’s what will fuel the hobby’s longevity and keep things fresh. Their talent continues to amaze me. My only advice is to never stop expanding your mind to trying new things. You shouldn’t fear failure because it’s part of the creative process and motivates you to do better every time you try.
Pope: Well funny enough; I just Kustoms Mag: Do you have any bought a new 2010 Grand Sport online sales coming up soon? Will Corvette which was adream of mine there be another Black Friday sale? for many years. Cars like the ZR-1, Grand Sport as well as the Camaro Pope: Right now I have a full and V-Series Cadillacs definitely slate of convention pieces thru the get people’s imaginations going and September DCS Canada convention keep performance cars alive and that I need to focus on before I can truly give my full time and attention to a new Pope
Kustoms Mag: So, a Chevy guy ended up only collecting Vipers..... can you explain that? Pope: I have loved the design and exclusivity of a Viper since its inception. In my eyes it is one the most unique modern designs ever to come out of Detroit. It doesn’t cater to mass thinking, just the sense of one on one with the car and road. Being a Chevy guy just comes natural when you live in NC. But I am not totally a Chevy guy since my wife owns an Accord and I drive a 9 year old Jeep as my daily driver! Kustoms Mag: I heard a rumor that you weren’t going to be entering too many more custom contests. Any truth to this? Pope: No that isn’t entirely true. I am always thinking about new customs to create. I may not enter every contest at every convention I attend, but when I do enter, it will be with designs that I can feel proud of and will excite both my fans and diecast lovers alike. 19
kicking. I hope that trend continues Designs piece. The Black for a long time to come. But I have Friday sales have always been fun also always admired cars and I wouldn’t rule out another if like Ferraris; especially the Enzo the right design came along. There Ferrari. I think cars like that will will definitely be at least one more always be around for the exclusive online piece for 2010, possibly two few who can buy them and the pieces, lets see what time allows. millions of fans who can only dream about them. Those designs keep Kustoms Mag: Being a Chevy guy, an artist like me wondering and you must be really impressed with the dreaming about the future. current line-up of GM’s performance cars. What do you think of them reintroducing cars like the Corvette ZR1 and the Grand Sport?